We’re here to help you Change Your Health Direction

Laura Dowling by City Headshots Dublin

Laura – Pharmacist, Stillorgan

May is here, bringing with it the official beginning of summer (and the launch of our FREE 8 Week Change Your Health Direction Programme). May is the month when we traditionally start to plan our summer holidays and mentally prepare for the ‘bikini body big reveal’. We naturally consume less calories as the weather warms up and many people take up some form of outdoor exercise because it is just EASIER to do so with the brighter, longer days.

It is so important to take a proactive approach to our health but it is also very easy to jump on the fad diet band wagon to lose weight. I always tell my clients that losing the pounds steadily over several weeks is preferable and much healthier than dropping half a stone in a week only to pile it all back on once the holidays come. Nowadays there is so much information out there and so many different people (some of whom are entirely under qualified to be giving advice) that one can feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which plan to follow.

I was raised, and am raising my own children with the mindset ‘everything in moderation’. It is impossible to stick to many of the current popular diets for prolonged periods of time and enjoy a decent work-life balance. People then have an overwhelming sense of guilt when they ‘fall off the wagon’ and this only reinforces their bad relationship with food.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a 99 on a hot sunny day- just ask for a children’s size! Even ‘healthy’ foods, if eaten in copious amounts can pile on the pounds. A teaspoon of Meridian cashew nut butter for example in porridge, natural yoghurt or spread on wholemeal bread is a delicious, nutrient dense snack and a staple snack in my house.  However, if you are shoveling tablespoons of the stuff into your mouth you WILL put on weight!

I am a big fan of taking high quality nutritional supplements to give yourself that extra boost that you might need energy-wise, especially if you are exercising more. Nutritional supplements, as well as helping you to achieve a healthy heart, bones, skin, hair and nails can also help to sustain energy levels and contribute to a restful night’s sleep. Revive Active is an Irish supplement, produced in Galway, that I recommend regularly in my practice. Quinton Cell Nutrition is another high-quality product that gives your body’s cells all the trace elements that they need to keep your body working optimally. People can really benefit from taking vitamin and mineral supplements when taken as part of a balanced diet.

The NUA Naturals range is another Irish brand with many organic superfood products that are nutrient dense and easy to add to baking, smoothies and cooking. I love their organic cacao which makes a much healthier  alternative to traditional hot chocolate. My kids love it too! Ashwagandha powder, known as ‘the Indian ginseng’ has been used for centuries in India where it is thought to relieve anxiety and periods of stress and fatigue. The NUA naturals version can be added to warm milk and honey as a night cap.

If you are unsure about which products to take to help you to achieve your health goals or if you need any dietary or exercise advice, your local LloydsPharmacy is a wealth of knowledge. There are Pharmacists and health coaches on hand seven days a week to answer your questions and give you the professional advice that will help to guide you on your Change Your Health Direction journey. Come on in, we are waiting for you!

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5 HEALTHY + PORTABLE SNACK IDEAS

Because this is my last week of recipes I’m a little spoilt for choice as regards what to share next. I couldn’t, and didn’t want to choose, so I’m sharing a medley of my favourite snacks, from simplest to some more interesting options.  There are five in total which I hope will provide something for everyone’s tastes. All are dairy, grain and gluten-free, some are entirely ‘plant-based’. The common denominator is that they are all made from very simple whole-foods.  If you’re having guests you could make a ‘snack platter’…..otherwise just prepare them all as you wish and squirrel them away in your car / handbag / desk drawer / goodie-drawer for those afternoons when you just need a little nibble!

CRUNCHY APPLE WITH CREAMY PB + CINNAMON  (serves 1)

  • 1 apple
  • 1-2 tbsp Meridian peanut or almond butter*
  • A good pinch of ground cinnamon

Instructions: I hardly need to provide instruction but here goes! Slice the apple, dip or spread with peanut butter and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Simple.

Good For: Peanut butter provides protein. Apple provides pectin (fibre) for gut health and cinnamon can help to balance blood sugar.

HARD BOILED EGGS, SUMAC + AVOCADO (serves 1)

  • 2 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1/3 tsp sumac (a citrus spice made from red berries of the sumac shrub)
  • 1 small (or 1/2 medium) avocado
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Boil eggs in a pan of water for 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool before peeling off the shell. Store in a small lunch box or lunch bag. To serve slice open, sprinkle with sumac. Half the avocado, sprinkle with sea salt and pile scoops onto your egg.

Good For: Low carbohydrate (sugar) option. High protein + fat keeps you full. Egg provides essential minerals and amino acids. Avocado is rich in fibre, folate, potassium and vitamin E.

TAMARI ROAST NUTS + SEEDS (makes 10-12 1oz servings)

  • 5 cups of mixed raw nuts (brazil, pecan, almond, walnut, macadamia)
  • 1/4 cup of seeds (sunflower / pumpkin)
  • 1 tbsp Optima raw virgin coconut oil*
  • 1 tbsp tamari (gluten free, GMO-free soy sauce)

Instructions: Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the coconut oil with the tamari in a saucepan over a medium heat. Dump in the nuts and seeds and combine well. Spread onto a roasting tray and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and crisp before decanting into a glass airtight jar.

Good For: Nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods in existence. Low carbohydrate but high in essential fats, protein and antioxidant nutrients Vitamin E, selenium and zinc. Consuming a handful of nuts daily is associated with lower body fat and BMI.

DARK CHOCOLATE + CHILLI MANGO (makes 4-6 servings)

  • 50g 85% cacao dark chocolate, melted
  • 100g organic dried mango (no added sugars, sulphites, preservatives)
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes

Instructions: Dip the mango into the melted dark chocolate (half-way) and set each piece onto a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Sprinkle the chocolate end with chilli flakes and sea salt and allow to set. Transfer to a jar.

Good For:  A quick energy boost. Mango (especially dried variety) is higher in simple sugars that your body can absorb and utilise quickly. Good for athletes pre- and post-training (if post training, add a hard boiled egg or a protein shake to optimise tissue repair and muscle growth).

CHOCOLATE NUT + GOJI BERRY BRITTLE (makes about 10-12 cupped handfuls)

  • 100g mixed nuts
  • 1 heaping handful of Nua naturals goji berries*
  • 1 handful Nua naturals cacao nibs* (optional)
  • 80g dark chocolate (85% cacao content or above)
  • Pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Nua naturals raw cacao powder*

Instructions: Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, reduce the heat and place a pyrex bowl on top. Break the dark chocolate into chunks and melt. When the chocolate is melted tip the nuts, gogi berries, cacao nibs and sea salt into the bowl with the chocolate and mix well to combine. Spread onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes until almost set. Remove from the fridge and dust with cacao powder. Place back in the fridge for 10 minutes. Break up the chunks of brittle and transfer to a large glass container. Store in the fridge.

Good For: Premenstrual symptoms such as low mood, anxiety and sugar or chocolate cravings. Cacao is a natural mood elevator and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins which are all particularly important for menstrual health. Nuts provide satiating essential fats, antioxidant vitamin E and selenium and zinc which are essential for male and female reproductive health.

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

MY BIG FAT GREEK YOGURT BOWLS – BREAKFAST

Greek yogurt or ‘the yogurt of the Gods’ is a superfood in itself with more than double the amount of protein and gut-friendly probiotics than regular yogurt.  It makes an ideal breakfast as the protein and fat content keep you fuller for longer.  I recommend using an authentic full-fat Greek yogurt such as ‘Fage Total’ which is simply milk and live active bacteria – no preservatives, no powdered milk or powdered anything!

For breakfast I like to customise my yogurt with a variety of toppings. Try fresh orange chunks with chopped 85% dark chocolate and chopped almonds, strawberries with pistachio nuts or walnut, fig and cinnamon.

Superfood Add-Ons: I don’t use the word ‘superfood’ lightly. Any food listed here has pretty hard evidence to suggest its particularly beneficial to our health. Here’s a line up of some evidence-based options….

  • Spirulina powder: a powdered blue-green algae that contains 55% to 70% protein. There is firm evidence that spirulina can improve fat (lipid) and sugar (glucose) metabolism, whilst reducing liver fat and protecting the heart! Spirulina has also been shown to reducing sneezing and stuffy nose. It can taste like pond water on its own but its great in smoothies or stirred into yogurt with a little honey and dried fruit.
  • Hulled Hemp Seeds: contain all the essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6 and 9), are high in fibre and contain about 33% protein. Because of their rich nutrient profile, hemp seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease, improve skin health and reduce symptoms of PMS or Menopause, making them a great little all-rounder.
  • Raw Cacao: I love when science justifies my love of a particular food! Cacao is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and zinc. It is listed amongst the Top 10 most nutrient dense foods on the planet and is a powerful source of antioxidants. Dig in!
  • Blueberries: Dark berries are rich in anthocyanins that have antioxidant properties found to reduce damage to our cells. They have been shown to improve memory in older people and are rich in fibre whilst having low levels of natural fruit sugars.
  • Raw Honey: A tablespoon of honey contains about 17 grams of sugar but it hands-down beats refined table sugars when it comes to its antioxidant content and plant compounds found in high quality honey such as Manuka honey or unpasteurised raw honey that hasn’t been exposed to heat. Go easy on serving sizes, a teaspoon should suffice!

YOU WILL NEED: Full fat plain Greek yogurt (about 125g per person) or 100g dairy-free alternative such as CoYo; a selection of nuts, seeds, nut butters, berries and ‘superfood’ add-ons.  Featured bowls…..

MANGO + SPIRULINA:

  • 125g Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tbsp spirulina powder or Superlife Superfood Mix*
  • 1 tsp raw honey or Manuka honey
  • 1 ounce dried mango (I like ‘Crazy Jacks’ with no added sugar or preservatives such as sulphites)
  • 1/2 tbsp Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds*

Instructions: Combine the yogurt, spirulina powder and honey to create a creamy-green consistency. Add toppings.

COCONUT YOGURT, MACA + BLUEBERRY (V)

  • 100g vanilla coconut yogurt (I use Coyo)
  • 1 teaspoon nua naturals maca powder*
  • 1 ounce coconut chips*
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Instructions: Combine the coconut yogurt and maca powder. Add toppings.

BANANA, CACAO + COCONUT BUTTER: 

  • 125g plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Nua Naturals raw cacao powder*
  • 1 tsp Nua Naturals raw cacao nibs*
  • 1/2 sliced banana
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp melted coconut butter (or peanut / almond butter)*

Instructions: Combine the yogurt and cacao powder.  Add toppings.

CACAO-QUINOA-CHIA CRUNCH (more preparation required!)

To make the Cacao-Quinoa-Chia Crunch topping: in a bowl combine 40g quinoa pops, 20g chia seeds*, 35g cacao powder*, 2tbsp cacao nibs*, 40g coconut chips*. Melt 6 tbsp coconut oil* with 4 tbsp maple syrup and add to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Spread onto a baking tray and let set in the fridge until hard and crumbly. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 10x 40g servings.  Serve sprinkled over your Greek yogurt or as a cereal with your favourite nut milk (I like hazelnut milk for this).

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Option Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Mango + Spirulina 275 7g 15g 43g 21g 1g
Vanilla Coyo, Blueberry + Maca 367 30g 5g 19g 11g 5g
Banana, Cacao + Coconut Butter 318 19.4g 13g 24.1g 14g 4.1g
Cacao Quinoa Crunch 278 18g 14g 17g 10g 3g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

 

CHOCOLATE FRUIT & NUT SQUARES – SNACK

Combining nuts and dates to create tasty raw treats is nothing new, a very well known chocolate confectionery brand has been doing a fruit & nut bar since 1926 and we all remember the ad campaign slogan sung to the tune of The Nutcracker!  I understand that the point to snack foods is that they are convenient. That being said putting an hour’s effort into making your own treats means you have a ready supply in the fridge for weeks, but more importantly you are avoiding ingredients such as artificial flavourings, emulsifiers and inflammatory vegetable fats, as well excessive sugar and trans fats.

A standard shop-bought fruit & nut bar will serve up 270 calories and 30g of sugar, which is  listed as the second ingredient after milk. In comparison this recipe provides 182 calories per serving and only 8g of sugars. There is no added vegetable oils with the only fats coming from the natural fats found in whole nuts and seeds that are linked to improved cognitive function, lower body fat, better blood lipid profile and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

Using whole, natural foods provides fibre and a range of nutrients including antioxidant vitamin E, biotin for healthy skin, hair and nails, magnesium, manganese and copper. Even chocolate has its benefits but you must choose the darker kind. The darker the chocolate, the less likely there is to be added ingredients such as soya lecithin and other emulsifiers. I like either Green & Blacks Organic 85% or Lindt as ingredients are simply cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla.

Given the sheer variety of nuts, seeds and superfood powders available these days there are endless options to cater for everyone’s tastes. Chocolate and hazelnuts are an age-old match made in heaven but you can use equivalent quantities of other nuts and seeds depending on your preferences or whatever you have available. You can also leave out the chocolate (but why would you want to do that?!).

(makes 16 bars)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (135g) whole hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup (40g) hulled hemp seeds (NUA NATURALS)*
  • 10 dates (sulphur-free, pitted)
  • 1/4 cup (3-4 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup (50g) jumbo oats
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour(NUA NATURALS)*
  • 100g 85% dark chocolate
  • Coconut oil for lining the baking tray (OPTIMA)*

Topping Options: toasted coconut flakes, cacao nibs, chopped hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. Line a bakingtray with parchment and spread with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a blenderpulse the almonds and hazelnuts until they look like a coarse sand.
  3. Add the hemp seeds, dates, maple syrup, salt, oats andcoconut flour. Blitz again until well combined. The mixture should ‘stick’ a little when pressed.
  4. Dump the mixture onto the lined baking tray and use your hands to press down until its about an inch thick. If the tray is larger than normal, fold the parchment in over the free edge of the mixture.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour to set.
  6. In the meantime break the chocolate into small pieces and place into aPyrex dish over a pan of hot water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt completely and then remove from the stove.
  7. Remove the nut mixture from the fridge and pourthe chocolate over the top, tilting the baking tray around until the chocolate is evenly spread.
  8. Sprinkle with your chosen topping and place back into the fridge to set.
  9. Once set use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for 8 weeks.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
182 13g 5g 13.3g 8g 3g
An excellent source of vitamin E, biotin, manganese, copper, magnesium & antioxidants

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

‘CHIA-LOVE’ BREAKFAST BOWLS – BREAKFAST

Everyone says they don’t “do” St. Valentines Day but secretly we all kind of buy-in to it, if not only to indulge in a little self love. Its not V-Day for another week yet,  but it’s good to be prepared so Im sharing this shamelessly pink breakfast recipe with you in advance.

Truthfully, only after I put the ingredients together did I realise that pomegranate fruit and maca powder are considered in many cultures as natural aphrodisiacs, and have been associated with hormonal health and fertility.  In the interest of science, there is some evidence that can attest to pomegranate juice increasing salivary testosterone levels in men by about 24%; whilst the ingestion of Maca root appears to increase libido in both genders, with three notable studies showing fairly consistent results.

A 30g serving of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fibre, 4g of protein and 5g of omega-3 fatty acid as well as providing almost a third of the recommended daily intake magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. This is particularly impressive when you consider just 30g has only 140 calories, making chia seeds highly nutrient dense.

This fibre and protein rich recipe is an ideal breakfast option and will provide sustained energy and keep you satisfied well into the day whilst the antioxidants and phytonutrients found in raspberries and pomegranate support the immune system and help to repair cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals.

RECIPE

(makes 2 breakfast servings or 4 small, snack-size servings)

  • 2 cups (475 ml) of unsweetened almond or coconut milk (I use Ecomil or Oatly brands)
  • 1/2 cup (6 level tbsp) whole chia seeds*
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of maca powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha powder*
  • 1 cup (about 125g) raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 4 tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp light tahini (I use Meridian)

To serve

  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • A few raspberries and some pomegranate seeds

Instructions:

  1. Put the chia seeds, milk, maca, vanilla and ashwagandha (if you’re using it) into a jar with a lid and shake vigorously, ensuring the chia seeds are well combined. Leave aside either overnight or for 10-20 minutes until the mixture thickens (it will look like frog spawn!).
  2. Transfer most of the raspberries and pomegranate to a blender cup (reserve some of the fruit for a topping). Add the tahini and a splash of water. Pulse the fruit until completely mixed.  It will be quite thick which is fine. If you don’t have a blender you could mash the fruit and tahini together with a fork or use a hand-held blender.
  3. When the chia seeds thick and gloopy, combine them with the fruit mixture and stir well.
  4. Transfer to bowls or airtight glass jars (for portability) and top with coconut and fruit. Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Servings Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre
Per half portion 420 29g 11g 42g 14g 21g
Per quarter portion 105 7.25g 2.75g 10.5g 3.5g 5.3g

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

ROAST BEETROOT (NEON PINK) HUMMUS -SNACK

This neon pink hummus gives that same cheerful boost a bright new lipstick gives you (sorry guys…I cant think of a male equivalent!).

Chickpeas are a wonderfully cheap and versatile legume. Legumes are rich in protein, fibre and folic acid and are ranked 4th place in the top 10 most most nutrient dense foods.  Hummus is a great snack as its healthy fats keep you satisfied between meals. Meridian Light Tahini (sesame seed butter) is a rich source of lignans, a cancer-fighting phytonutrient and is also delicious on its own spread on some sliced apple.

The vibrant colour of this recipe is provided by beetroot – an athlete’s secret weapon!  If you’re a regular exerciser, especially if you partake in endurance sports (marathons and triathlons), beetroot should absolutely be a regular part of your diet.  Nitrates in beetroot boost energy and performance by helping to oxygenate the blood, whilst anti-inflammatory compounds facilitate post-exercise muscle recovery.

You don’t have to roast the beets before hand – you could lightly steam them or use raw beets if you want.  As a snack I’m serving this hummus on a slice of toasted rye bread (I use Biona 100% Rye bread) with a few slivers of avocado and a sprinkle if Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds.

(makes about 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized beetroot, peeled.
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Meridian Light Tahini*
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Extra olive oil for serving
  • Nua naturals hemp seeds for garnish (optional)*

To roast the beetroot:

Preheat oven to 220 celsius. Individually wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and place onto the oven rack. Roast for about 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool fully before preparing the hummus.

Prepare the hummus:

In a food processor pulse the beetroot a few times on its own before adding the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini.  Pulse a few more times and then slowly add the olive oil whilst continuing to blend. Season and pulse again one last time until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle over some olive oil and a sprinkling of hulled hemp seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

NUTRITION INFORMATION BEETROOT HUMMUS PER 1/6th of recipe
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
143 10g 4.1g 13.6g 3.3g 4g
A source of protein, fiber, folic acid, manganese, potassium and essential fatty acids. 

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

IRRESISTIBLE CURRY-ROASTED ALMONDS – SNACK

Whole nuts and seeds are some of the best snack foods you can eat. Despite being high in fat they are incredibly nutrient dense, to the extent that nuts and seeds rank 3rd in the top 10 most nutrient dense foods (it should please you to know that cacao also made the cut!).  In fact evidence indicates that nut consumers have a lower BMI (body mass index) and nuts contribute to weight control due to their strong satiety effects.

Almonds are a favourite due to their impressive nutrient profile. A 1-ounce serving (about 28g grams) provides 6g protein, 3.5g fiber and over 30% of the recommended daily allowance of antioxidant vitamin E and manganese – a mineral with multiple superpowers, including helping antioxidants to function properly and controlling blood sugar levels.

This recipe makes about 10 handfuls and can be stored in an airtight glass jar for weeks. These are deliciously crunchy with a hint of sweet and salt, making them ever-so-slightly irresistible so stick to a cupped handful (which provides an average serving). Squirrel them away in your desk drawer and grab a handful during the afternoon to see you through until dinner.

(makes 2.5 cups: approx.10x 1oz servings)

Ingredients

  • 250g whole almonds
  • 30g coconut shavings
  • 1 heaped tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp optima raw virgin organic coconut oil* (at room temperature i.e. liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or 2 Tbsp nua naturals coconut palm sugar*)
  • 1/2 Tbsp medium-hot curry powder
  • pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 170 Celsius (325 Fahrenheit). Line a large baking tray with parchment.
  • In a large bowl mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, curry powder, chilli and sea salt flakes. Add the almonds, coconut and sesame seeds.  Mix well ensuring the nuts are well coated.
  • Spread the mixture in one layer onto the baking tray and put into the oven. Roast for about 25 minutes (check after 15 minutes to ensure the coconut is not burning, cover with foil if necessary).
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. As the mixture cools the nuts will become crunchy!
  • Store in cool place, in an airtight glass jar.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER 1 ounce serving
Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
147 12.7g 6.2g 6.5g 3.3g 3.8g
A source of protein, fiber, magnesium, manganese & vitamin E

PAMELA RYAN | NUTRITIONIST | CORPORATE NUTRITION + YOGA

Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores